Kanye West – “Runaway”
I’ll always remember the first time I really connected with Kanye West the person. Sure, he’s an amazing artist, a creative visionary even. But had I ever listened to a Kanye song that tapped into something deeply emotional? Not even close. “Runaway” changed that, as an epic hip-hop song that easily registers as one of the best things that not just Kanye – but the entire genre – has put out in the past decade.
Kanye brings out his 808’s vocoder-influenced voice for this one, and he spills his soul…whether it’s the self-deprecating line, “Yeah I always find something wrong / You been putting up with my shit just way too long / I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most” or the more vulnerable “Never was much of a romantic, I could never take the intimacy / And I know I did damage, cause the look in your eyes is killing me…And I don’t know how I’ma manage, If one day you just up and leave.” It’s not so much that he’s hiding his arrogance and mistreatment of those whom he loves, it’s an admission of such – and a plea to bear with him while he tries to get his shit together. Let’s have a toast for the douchebags…
Heartbreaking lyrics aside, the thing is monumental musically. It skirts the line of rap/hip-hop, infusing the song with isolated piano notes, and the distorted vocals at the end sound like something Sufjan might have written for Age of Adz, marking one of the greatest outros to any song I’ve heard. It’s downright beautiful, from its meaning to the stunning canvas that features classical elegance and vocoder/electronic distortion clashing like an auditory representation of West’s internal anguish.
I’m almost at a loss of words when it comes to “Runaway.” Maybe it’s because I’m not a rap/hip-hop guru, but I like to think it’s because something this profound on a creative, musical, and emotional level comes out so very rarely. Other Kanye songs stood no chance when it came to this decade list. It was always going to be “Runaway.”